Autopolis

The cat’s out of the bag, and no, it’s not Schrödinger’s cat.

My team has elected the next project leader for the next project, an autonomous greenhouse, which is basically a building-sized robot that feeds itself and grows/harvests food for humans.

Interestingly enough, but not surprisingly so, they chose a project management algorithm to lead the project, giving over all decision making and late night number crunching to a software team member who/which won’t need weekly meetings or summary reports to get its point across when fingers are pointed toward the causes of failures in achieving project goals.

The algorithm already mines Bitcoins to generate revenue for the project so cost has all but been eliminated from concerns on this project.

Practically eliminating humans from the design and construction phase reduces labour costs; so, too, during operation and maintenance.

The algorithm has a flexible set of milestones to complete the design and construction, this being a new project for all involved.

I trust my team.

However, I’m building my own scale version of this to compare one human’s design to that of an algorithm.

In my case, cost is of paramount importance, labour cost is primarily my free time and schedule is within a few weeks/months depending on weather conditions and my free time.

Wish me luck!

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Pushing through the muck

Lee had not forgotten about life on Mars.

The colonisation process occupied the widest path in his thoughts.

Lee practiced being human and detoured from the path to remind himself of the frailties he once faced daily.

He reminded himself of love, what it was like to converse in realtime without the safety of the Internet between two people, having to see into each other’s smiles, smell each other’s bodies, risk tripping over words and word meanings.

But Mars was always there.

He challenged himself and the team to make AI entities more humanlike for the human tourists who visited the Moon and Mars.

Not “uncanny valley” human.

Less mechanistic.

More compassionate and understanding, able to read emotional states in silent interchanges between AI and humans.

Not just behavioural science but a more scientifically holistic approach to human-machine interface.

How to understand unspoken painful memories.

How to interpret sarcastic statements without knowing the socioeconomic subcultural history of the speaker/writer.

Lee expected perfection and settled for nothing less.

He set the example of himself to the team, willing to face his own deep, dark secrets and painful memories to program and test AI algorithms against the rest of the team, refining the code so that it was not tuned to a single personality archetype or body type.

He had been an artist from childhood.

But he was also a scientist and engineer.

A computer engineer and social engineer.

Computers programmed to perform only a few functions could be seen as megalomaniacs and single-minded narcissists from the wrong perspective.

Lee preferred the 360-degree view.

Correction to a previous post

Wanted to correct a previous post, which reflected my poor memory about the founder of ADS Environmental Services.

Here, forewith, is Peter Petroff’s proper CV (source):

Peter Dimitroff Petroff, a NASA engineer and later an inventor whose enterprises developed heart-monitoring equipment and originated the digital wristwatch 30 years ago, died Feb. 27 at his home in Huntsville, Ala. He was 83. . .

He went into business on his own in 1968, founding Care Electrics, a high-technology company that developed a wireless heart monitor for hospital use. The venture evolved into Electro/Data, which created the prototype of the digital watch.

Marketed by the Hamilton Watch Company as the Pulsar, the odd-looking device sold for $2,100 in 1971.

Of course, there had been mechanical digital watches long before, but the Pulsar was electronic with a red LED readout.

More

THERE is a widespread belief in Bulgaria that the country has never been able to keep its best offspring because they always leave to find a better place to make a living. Unfortunately, one can easily share this view, as most of the Bulgarians that have introduced anything of importance to the world have been from among those that left their homeland. Perhaps this is not such a problem, as long as Bulgarians do not forget those that brought the fame.

Following this line of thought, one name that was long ago forgotten in Bulgaria was that of Peter Petroff (Petar Petrov), and only the news of his death brought his name back to the minds of Bulgarians.

Peter Dimitroff Petroff, 83, an engineer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and an inventor whose enterprises developed a heart monitor and the digital wristwatch 30 years ago, died on February 27 at his home in Huntsville, Alabama. He was a native of Bulgaria who moved to Canada and then to the US after World War 2, and in 1968 founded Care Electrics, a high-tech company that developed a wireless heart monitor for hospitals. The company became Electro/Data, which created the prototype of the digital watch. Marketed by the Hamilton Watch Company as the Pulsar, it sold for $2100 in 1971.

Petroff was born in the Bulgarian village of Brestovitsa, and, while almost nothing is known of his life in Bulgaria, his later existence was marked with the name of a great inventor. He was born on October 21, 1919 to the family of Dimitar Petrov, a priest of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and his wife Vasillia. After attending a religious seminary, Petroff enlisted in the French Foreign legion in October 1939.

He was captured by the Germans while defending the French Maginot Line in 1940, and sent to a German Prisoner Of War camp in Poland. He returned to Bulgaria in March 1941 and became an officer in the Bulgarian Army. His duties included being a palace guard to King Boris III of Bulgaria and participating in the Honour Guard for the funeral of Turkey’s President, Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

In 1944, he moved to Germany to study engineering at the University of Munich.

He graduated from Darmstadt and Stuttgart universities with a master’s degree in electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering. While in Germany he also studied his life long passion, naval architecture, and designed and built the first of over 60 boats in 1947.

Petroff arrived in Toronto in 1951 via wartime France and Germany. He worked on arctic engineering and construction projects for the US Air Force at Goose Bay, Labrador, and Thule, Greenland.

He went to Indochina in 1956 for assignments in bridge and power plant construction. Three years later, he sailed a 65-foot catamaran of his own design to Melbourne, Florida, where he joined the space projects carried out by a precursor of the Harris Corporation. He helped design systems for early weather and communications satellites and organised the company’s semiconductor division.

Moving to Huntsville in 1963, Petroff was recruited by Wernher von Braun to work on the new Saturn rocket for the Apollo space programme. During that period, his employers were NASA, and Boeing and Northrop, its contractors.

In 1975, Petroff and his sons founded ADS Environmental Services, a maker of computerised pollution monitoring equipment for the world market. He sold his interest in the company in 1995 but rejoined his sons as a consultant for Time Domain.

Petroff received numerous honours and awards throughout his professional career. His most unique distinction was to be officially declared an Enemy of the People by the communist regime in Bulgaria, for which he received a death sentence in absentia. The sentence was later lifted.

He continued his lifelong interest in boat design and naval architecture by renovating the Gemini II. The boat also served as the base of operation for Lee Taylor’s successful assault on the world water speed record on Lake Guntersville in 1967. In 1991, he moved the Gemini II to the US Virgin Islands. It was donated to charity two years ago and now serves as a floating orphanage in Central America.

In its obituary for Peter Petroff, The New York Times quoted Ralph Petroff, one of his sons, who said it was ironic that his father had died a peaceful death.

“He always laughed at danger and he laughed at death. He should have never made it to his 83rd birthday, let alone his 20th,” Ralph Petroff said. “I guess if you were to combine Indiana Jones with Thomas Edison, the result would be Peter Petroff.”

And his wikipedia entry:

Peter Petroff (Born in Brestovitsa, Bulgaria, October 21, 1919 – Died in Huntsville, Alabama, United States, February 27, 2003[1]) was a Bulgarian American inventor, engineer, NASA scientist, and adventurer. He was instrumental in the evolution of the NASA space program. Among his many accomplishments, Petroff developed the world’s first computerized pollution monitoring system and telemetry devices for the world’s first weather and communications satellites. Petroff helped develop the world’s first digital watch[1] and the world’s first wireless heart monitor, and many other important devices and methods. Petroff founded Care Electronics, Inc. which was acquired by Electro-Data, Inc. of Garland, Texas in the fall of 1971.

Petroff Point on Brabant Island in Antarctica is named for Petroff.[2]

References

  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/09/obituaries/09PETR.html The New York Times: Peter D. Petroff Dies at 83.
  2. Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica: Petrov Point.

 

And his NY Times obit, if you’re interested.

13084 days (12734 sols) to go

For some of my colleagues, spacecraft engine development is practically an obsession.

For others, bending of spacetime is the primary focus.

In either case, moving purpose-built beings from Earth to celestial bodies in this solar system holds their attention.

But then there are those whom we haven’t mentioned…

…the ones who pop up out of newly-discovered multidimensional spacetime travel methods.

But first, a Martian field trip’s in order.

From there, who knows?!